Based on his plea agreement, the former director of the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty William E. Rapfogel on Wednesday paid the balance of $3 million he owed in restitution, and was sentenced to 3 1/3 to 10 years in prison.
The sentencing was made by Justice Larry Stephen of NY State Supreme Court.
Rapfogel, 59, led the nonprofit Met Council to enormous growth after he became its executive director in 1993. According to the NY Times, the organization has spent more than $110 million in government funds a year on services for older people and the poor.
Rapfogel’s annual compensation package exceeded $400, 000.
According to his deal, if he failed to make the complete, $3 million restitution, his sentence would have been extended to four to 12 years.
The criminal case is a blow to Rapfogel neighbor and close associate, NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who for decades awarded tax dollars to Met Council, and appeared at public events with Rapfogel, whom he described as a friend.
“Willie” Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, works as Speaker Silver’s chief of staff and has been an employee of his office since 1977.
Judy Rapfogel sat next to her husband in the courtroom on. She did not show emotion as he was led away.
The conviction represents a degradation in the clout of the Assembly Speaker, once described as the strongest Democrat in NY State. His base community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has been dwindling as many Orthodox Jews have been leaving the neighborhood. Silver still gets re-elected by large margins every two years, but around him Hispanic and Chinese politicians are emerging and claiming an increasing portion of the district’s positions of power.
The courtroom session lasted only a few minutes, with Rapfogel reading a brief statement in which he expressed regret for hurting the charity.
“I have tried hard to make amends, ” he said. “But I also recognize that what I did was seriously wrong and that I will continue to pay a heavy price for my actions. I am terribly sorry.”